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Flashcards in Obedience Deck (36):


Complying with they demands of an authority figure


Milgrams behaviour study (1963) procedure

40 participants
All were told it was a study of how punishment affects learning
Participants were The teacher
Experimenter was the learner
Learner had to answer questions, if wrong got electrocuted by the learner (started on 15V then went up to 450V)



65% went to full shock levels
all participants went to 300volts
13% learners stopped at 300V



Situational variables contribute to obedience
Obedience to authority occurs even if it goes against your morels and causes distress


Situational factors

Presence of allies (unanimity)



Teacher and learner seated in same room - went from 65% down to 40% full shock level
Touch proximity - went down further to 30% full shock level
Proximity of experimenter- 21% full shock level
Participants lied to experimenter saying they gave a higher shock when actually it was a low shock level



Interview afterwards - participants said they wouldn’t have given a shock if the study had been else where
Moved to Bridgeport - obedience rate went from 65% down to 48%



Bushman - female researcher dressed in police asked people to give for change to a male researcher for a parking ticket - 72% of people obeyed
Business executive - 48% obeyed
Begged - 52% obeyed


Presence of allies

2 other teachers in room refused to carry on - obedience rate dropped to only 10% of people continuing to maximum shock level



Manipulated variables



Practical applications - hoped to reduce destruction but hasn’t been successful
Problems with generalising Milgram’s conclusions to the Holocaust - other factors such as threat to individual safety may also have affected obedience


Ethical issues

No psychological harm - only 2% regretted applying, 74% learnt from it
Caused psychological harm - showed signs of stress, some had seizures



Was necessary for realistic behaviour, needed to believe shocks were real otherwise they would just carry on doing it

There was deception- didn’t tell the, the actual aim, no fully conformed concert- told about electrical shock after agreeing


Right to withdraw

If participants were asked to stop they were told they had to continue


Participants were paid to take part

They felt obliged to carry on


Validity issues

75% participants believed shock was real - makes it valid
Participants who thought it was real shocked to a level voltage


Cultural or historical validity

Obedience rates have changed in 50 years, despite cultural change
American culture- Vietnam war was a concern at the time of milgrams study

Australia - obedience rate at 28%
Spain - obedience rate at 90%


Real life scenarios

Hofling et al (1966) - 22 nurses asked to give wrong dose of unknown drug by a senior doctor 21 obeyed even though it went against hospital rules - SUPPORTS MILGRAMS

Rank - gave nurses a familiar drug- only 2 of the 18 obeyed - shows that external validity didn’t occur in this experiment or milgrams


Explanation for obedience in milgrams study

Gradual commitment - shocks were gradually increasing, becomes easier as lower shock had been given
Role of buffers - more distance between teacher and learner, the more likelihood of obedience
Justifying obedience - blaming others ‘I was only told to do it’


Explanation for obedience

Agentic state
Legitimacy of authority
Authoritarian personality


Explanations for obedience

Agentic shift
Legitimacy of authority
Authoritarian personality


Dispositional explanation

Belief that behaviour is caused by internal characteristics of an individual


Situational explanation

Belief that behaviour is caused by external, factors in the environment or situation


Agentic shift

The shift from autonomous state to agentic state

Autonomous state - individual sees themselves as responsible for their own actions

Agentic state - individual sees their actions not their control


Why do people go through agentic shift?

Remain self image - remain a positive self image, when shifted, their actions are no longer up to them, and so if wrong, doesn’t affect their own self image

Binding factors - doesn’t want to appear rude or contradictory


Evidence for agentic shift

Milgrams interview after shock experiment

People claimed they ‘just did as they were told’ - suggests they have shifted to the agentic state where they don’t believe their actions is their fault or responsibility


Evaluation of agentic state

Fqennis - obedience may also extend to other forms of social influence

The reason for agentic state is due to people’s experience of personal control
Lab experiment - showed a reduction in personal control lead to greater obedience


Fennis - evaluation of agentic state

Fennis- obedience may also extend to other forms of social influence

The reason for agentic state is due to people’s experience of personal control
Lab experiment - showed a reduction in personal control lead to greater obedience


Staub- evaluation of agentic state

Not agentic state but experience of carrying out acts of evil over a long time that changes the way in which individuals think and believe


Lifton- evaluation of agentic state

German doctors - changed from medical professionals concerned only of the welfare of their patients

Went into being capable of carrying out bike and lethal experiments on helpless prisoners


Legitimacy of authority

Obeying someone who is percieved to be in a position of control within a situation


Milgrams explanation for legitimacy of authority

Participants went into the lab expecting someone to be in charge
Teacher - participants obey teacher when they ask to stop but get told they must continue


Supporting legitimacy of authority

Tannow- studied data from us national transport safety - looked at black boxes from plane crahses
Found excessive dependence on the captains authority and expertise


Authoritarian personality

Person who holds rigid beliefs, including in absolute obedience
Higher authoritarian personality, the mor you will obey


Who suggested an authoritarian personality?

Adorno - people who have a high F score tended to be raised by parents who used an authoritarian parenting style - they expected children to obey to either them or an authoritarian person


Milgram and authoritarian personalities

Elm and milgram - used same people - top 20 people who went to highest shock level, and 20 who stopped at a low shock level
These 40 completed the MMPI scale

Found - people who went higher scored highly on the scale
People who went low scored low on the scale

Suggested obedience rates increased the more of an authoritarian personality you have